She Said: Just Friends

Sarah Irby, Editor in Chief~

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I tend to get annoyed when people make the claim that men and women can never be “just friends.” Like, why not? Is there something radically different about men and women that doesn’t allow us to communicate casually or platonically? Are we so attracted to everyone of the opposite sex that we can’t control ourselves? I realize that there are some good examples someone could use to try to argue against my position, but in the end – when you really think about it – the whole idea is just ludicrous.

First of all, I grew up as one of the girls who had more guy friends than girl friends; it has always remained that way. Obviously, friendships are a lot less complicated and everyone is much more innocent when they’re kids, but we can still use that time as an example. If we can be “just friends” when we’re little, then we can carry that over into adulthood. Sure, feelings of attachment or sexual attraction definitely complicate matters, but at the same time you’re adults; you should be able to take control of situations and handle things appropriately, rather than let them get in the way and cause ruin.

My best friend from high school is a guy, and he’s never been anything more than a friend. He has a relationship that he’s dedicated to and that I’m supportive of, as friends should be. When I go home, him and I – along with our other close friend, who is also a guy – always go out together to get food and drinks and just have a good time catching up. Nothing else. There doesn’t have to be anything else, because this is what it means to be “just friends.” It’s a remarkably simple concept, contrary to popular belief.

Illustration by Genevieve Griffin

When I was in high school, my lunch table was filled with all guys, except for me and my friend Jasmine. When I was in gym class, I mostly hung out with guy friends. In band, most of my interactions were with guys. When I ran track my freshman year, I was one of a few girls among a bunch of guys, most of whom I considered my friends. There were never any romantic feelings shared with these guys, so I’m a little confused when people tell me that men and women can’t be “just friends.”

I will admit that most of my relationships started from friendships, but those are just individual cases. It’s not something you can extrapolate. Besides, isn’t that how relationships tend to start? You don’t typically just meet someone a couple times and then BOOM you’re in a relationship. Oh, and then there’s the similar “you can’t be friends with exes” argument. This is considerably more understandable, but still not entirely true.

Even after bad breakups, I still managed to stay friends with most of my exes – if not immediately after, then at least at some point down the line. I’m still friends with some of my exes who currently have girlfriends, and it isn’t sketchy, because we are just friends. Let me say that again for the ones in the back: We are JUST. FRIENDS. Regardless of past experiences, there are no longer any romantic feelings or desires to be anything other than friends. We just recognize that we are still important to one another as human beings, and we care enough to stay in contact.

So maybe we should reevaluate the meanings of our different relationships and how we as a society tend to perceive them. We like to see everything as binary when it really isn’t; it’s all a broad spectrum. Just because you see a man and a woman together doesn’t mean they’re dating. They could be, but they could also be friends, they could be brother and sister, they could be co-workers, and the list goes on. Hopefully – at the very least –  my two cents has given you another outlook to consider regarding interpersonal expectations.

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